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[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter reaching an all time high in 2017, Israel has yet again broken its record of Indian tourist arrivals to the country with an 82% growth from January to June in the last three years. More than 40,000 Indian tourists visited Israel in the last six months vis-à-vis 22,000 people during the same period in 2015 as per the statistics released by Israel Ministry of Tourism (IMOT). Israel also witnessed a whopping 17,800 Indian arrivals with 115% growth in May alone as compared to 8,300 visitors in May, 2015.
Speaking about the positive growth, Hassan Madah – Director, Israel Ministry of Tourism India & Philippines said, “We have been witnessing a steady year on year growth in tourist arrivals to Israel from India and are extremely pleased with the consistent record-breaking tourism figures. India has been an important market for us and I am delighted to say that it has been one of the best performing markets in Asia, especially until June this year. A lot of initiatives have contributed to this success and with the recent reduction in visa fee for Indian travellers, I am positive to close this year on 1 lakh arrivals from India”.
In March this year, Air India launched the fastest nonstop flight between New Delhi and Tel Aviv with one-way duration of 7 hours and 10 minutes taking a straight route between the two countries. Following an overwhelming response, the national carrier announced an increase in frequency on this sector, adding a fourth flight a week starting from 14th July. In an effort to encourage more Indian travellers to visit Israel, The Ministry of Tourism also unveiled its advertising summer campaign to attract Indian travellers to visit the country during the peak holiday season of April – June.
In December last year, relaxed visa documentation was brought in for applicants who have availed visas of Schengen countries, US, Canada, Australia or Israel and have completed their travel to these countries. In September 2017, the Ministry introduced one-year multiple entry visas for business travellers to Israel. They also recently announced a reduction in visa fee to INR 1,100 from its previous INR 1,700 charge for Indian citizens. Continuous efforts are being taken towards bringing more changes to make the process faster and easier for Indian travellers to visit Israel.
Mr. Madah added, “A majority of the arrival numbers include MICE, corporate and leisure seeking travellers owing to the beautiful landscapes, historic attractions, availability of vegetarian food and uncomplicated visa process. We have also observed a trend of increase in women groups exploring the country which speaks volumes about a destination”.
In light of the significant increase in incoming tourism several reforms are being designed to increase supply in the tourism industry. This includes increased assistance for constructing new hotels in Israel and new opportunities for international brands to continue to build hotels in the country.
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